Special Board Announcement
The Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) has a long and distinguished history of bringing academics, students, and industry professionals together for our Annual Meeting, which first began in 1990. Our annual meeting is at the heart of our society and as a Board, we want to ensure that it is the best scientific and networking experience it can be. As we look forward to our meeting in October 2022, the Board has carefully examined how best to structure the event. Two major issues have emerged: concerns over traveling to Texas (given its recent legislative decisions) and concerns over whether to provide a hybrid component for those who cannot travel. We aim to balance our fiscal responsibility of ensuring we have a Society for our future members, while also meeting the needs of our current members and preserving BMES’ rich history.
Our 2022 meeting will be held in San Antonio. The locations of our meetings are chosen 5-6 years in advance. This year, some of our members requested that we move the event’s location, voicing concerns regarding Texas’ politics and laws that do not align with their core beliefs and noting restrictions on state-funded travel to Texas for many members. The Board discussed this issue extensively, and we value these concerns. However, abandoning our contracts in San Antonio would result in steep penalties that, in addition to losses related to the pandemic, would significantly impact the financial state of the society. Moreover, we do not want to exclude learners in Texas (or any state) from engaging in our meeting. BMES strategically moves the conference location to promote access to our membership. Moving forward in future years for which we have not already signed site contracts, the Board will evaluate prospective sites based on factors including geographic distribution, inclusive spaces, cost for our members, and alignment with organizational values.
We also evaluated the option of holding the meeting as a hybrid meeting to help accommodate those who cannot travel. We want to give the membership the best experience that we can, and we recognize that hybrid is difficult to do well. Our meeting is very complex: typically, 18+ concurrent sessions, multiple networking events, and numerous special sessions over 2.5 days. As such, the costs for holding a well-integrated, fully hybrid meeting are exceptionally high and beyond our means. For similar reasons, many comparable scientific societies (e.g., AIChE, SFB, SHPE, ASCB) are opting for in-person meetings in 2022.
Given the steep cost to cancel our contract in San Antonio and the costs of a hybrid meeting, the Board voted unanimously to hold an in-person meeting, with a few exceptions noted below. Our decision was guided by both our desire to provide our members with the best experience and our fiduciary responsibility to ensure that the Society continues to operate in the coming years. Canceling the meeting and/or moving to a hybrid platform would place BMES in financial jeopardy. Moreover, we believe the in-person experience will allow our members to benefit from the community of our meeting: the networking, catching up with friends and colleagues, and connecting face to face. Your health and safety remain a top priority for us, and we will continue to follow CDC guidelines to ensure we take appropriate onsite precautions, and we will communicate them clearly leading up to the meeting. Over the coming months, in consultation with the staff, annual meeting conference co-chairs, and Diversity Committee, we will work to try to create an inclusive environment for all our attendees at this meeting.
We understand that some of our members will be unable to travel. Each member of our Board has personally donated money to help create a virtual component of the events led by our Diversity Committee. We truly value their efforts and these events and want to try to ensure that they are accessible to our entire membership. We also plan to live-stream the fantastic set of plenary lectures that we have planned so that they can be shared with a broader audience. Finally, we are planning additional, high-profile virtual events, augmenting our in-person annual meeting program with talks by Early Career faculty who are unable to attend and have a time-sensitive need to disseminate their research among BMES members. We will continue to hold other virtual events throughout the year, including webinars and events like the “Meet the Faculty Candidates.”
We remain focused on our mission “to promote a collaborative and inclusive community to advance human health through education, discovery, and translation.” As an organization, we continue to have a strong commitment to social responsibility and equity. Those themes will be evident at this year’s meeting. We hope to see those who can travel safely for a vibrant meeting filled with science and networking, and for those who cannot travel, we hope you will access the live-streamed content from the annual meeting and participate virtually in our ongoing programming throughout the year.
The BMES Board of Directors
John White, Ph.D., President
Cynthia Reinhart-King, Ph.D., President-Elect
Debra Auguste, Ph.D., Treasurer
Jane Grande-Allen, Ph.D., Secretary
Naomi Chesler, Ph.D., Publications Board Chair
Donald P. Gaver, Ph.D., Finance Committee Chair
Jenny Amos, Ph.D., Director
Vicki Colvin, Ph.D., Council of Chairs Chair
Lola Eniola-Adefeso, Ph.D., Director
Ross Ethier, Ph.D., Director
Nicole Hurley, Ph.D., Director
David Jamison, Ph.D., Director
Roland Kaunas, Ph.D., Director
Stephanie Kladakis, Ph.D., Director
Sanjay Kumar, MD, Ph.D., Director
Kent Leach, Ph.D., Director
Ruth Ochia, Ph.D., Director
Manu Platt, Ph.D., Director
Christine Scotti, Ph.D., Director